MediaTek Goes LTE CAT 6 On Low End SoCs

February 8, 2016 by  
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MediaTek appears to be ready to give three more entry level processors LTE Cat 6 so they can mangage a 300 Mbit download and 50 Mbit upload.  We already knew that the high-end deca-core X20 and mainstream eight core P10 were getting LTE Cat 6.

According to the Gizchina website, the company the three new SoCs carry the catchy titles of MT6739, MT6750 and MT6750T. .

The MT6739 will probably replace the MT6735. Both have quad A53 cores but it will mean that the MT6739 will get a Cat 6 upgrade from Cat 4. The MT6739 supports speeds of up to 1.5GHz, 512 KB L2 cache, 1280×720 at 60fps resolution, and video decode to 1080p 30fps with H.264 and 13 megapixel camera. This means it is an entry level SoC for phones that might fit into the $100 price range.

The MT6750 and MT6750T look like twins, only the T version supports full HD 1920×1080 displays. The MT6750 has eight cores, four A53 clocked at 1.5Ghz and four A53 clocked at 1.0GHz and is manufactured on TSMC’s new 28nm High Performance Mobile Computing manufacturing mode. This is the same manufacturing process MediaTek is using for the Helio P10 SoC. The new process allows lower leakage and better overall transistor performance at lower voltage.

The MT6750 SoC supports single channel LPDDR3 666MHz and eMCP up to 4GB. The SoC supports eMMC 5.1, 16 megapixel camera, 1080p 30 fps with both H.264 and H.265 decoding. It comes with an upgraded ARM Mali T860 MP2 GPU with 350 MHz and display support of 1280×720 HD720 ready with 60 FPS. This means the biggest upgrade is the Cat 6 upgrade and it makes sense – most of European and American networks now are demanding a Cat 6 or higher modem that supports carrier aggregation.

This new SOc looks like a slowed down version of Helios P10 and should be popular for entry level Android phones.


Samsung Goes 4GB HBM

February 2, 2016 by  
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Samsung has begun mass producing what it calls the industry’s first 4GB DRAM package based on the second-generation High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) 2 interface.

Samsung’s new HBM solution will be used in high-performance computing (HPC), advanced graphics, network systems and enterprise servers, and is said to offer DRAM performance that is “seven times faster than the current DRAM performance limit”.

This will apparently allow faster responsiveness for high-end computing tasks including parallel computing, graphics rendering and machine learning.

“By mass producing next-generation HBM2 DRAM, we can contribute much more to the rapid adoption of next-generation HPC systems by global IT companies,” said Samsung Electronics’ SVP of memory marketing, Sewon Chun.

“Also, in using our 3D memory technology here, we can more proactively cope with the multifaceted needs of global IT, while at the same time strengthening the foundation for future growth of the DRAM market.”

The 4GB HBM2 DRAM, which uses Samsung’s 20nm process technology and advanced HBM chip design, is specifically aimed at next-generation HPC systems and graphics cards.

“The 4GB HBM2 package is created by stacking a buffer die at the bottom and four 8Gb core dies on top. These are then vertically interconnected by TSV holes and microbumps,” explained Samsung.

“A single 8Gb HBM2 die contains over 5,000 TSV holes, which is more than 36 times that of an 8Gb TSV DDR4 die, offering a dramatic improvement in data transmission performance compared to typical wire-bonding based packages.”

Samsung’s new DRAM package features 256GBps of bandwidth, which is double that of an HBM1 DRAM package. This is equivalent to a more than seven-fold increase over the 36GBps bandwidth of a 4Gb GDDR5 DRAM chip, which has the fastest data speed per pin (9Gbps) among currently manufactured DRAM chips.

The firm’s 4GB HBM2 also enables enhanced power efficiency by doubling the bandwidth per watt over a 4Gb GDDR5-based solution, and embeds error-correcting code functionality to offer high reliability.

Samsung plans to produce an 8GB HBM2 DRAM package this year, and by integrating this into graphics cards the firm believes designers will be able to save more than 95 percent of space compared with using GDDR5 DRAM. This, Samsung said, will “offer more optimal solutions for compact devices that require high-level graphics computing capabilities”.

Samsung will increase production volume of its HBM2 DRAM over the course of the year to meet anticipated growth in market demand for network systems and servers. The firm will also expand its line-up of HBM2 DRAM solutions in a bid to “stay ahead in the high-performance computing market”.


Is AT&T Facing Pressure?

February 1, 2016 by  
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AT&T has announced aggressive discounts on new smartphones and devices, including a 2-for-1 smartphone offer for business customers.

A big focus of the AT&T discounts is special deals on Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones and Gear S2 smartwatches. Analysts interpreted that focus on Samsung devices as a way to clear out inventory prior to expected upgrade announcements coming in late February at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

AT&T is also facing pressure to add more subscribers, as analysts — including Evercore ISI this week– have predicted AT&T’s fourth-quarter postpaid subscriber loss will be more than 300,000. That comes amid reports that T-Mobile added 4.5 million net subscribers for the fourth quarter and Verizon Wireless added 525,000.

All the major carriers, including AT&T, hit the December holidays with special device deals, but AT&T apparently didn’t feel enough impact on its inventory from those offers, analysts said.

AT&T and Samsung are motivated to get rid of all the old inventory before new models arrive, said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. “Retailers won’t run such an aggressive promotion unless they have a lot of stock.”

An AT&T spokeswoman provided a different explanation: “Due to popular demand, AT&T is bringing back some of its holiday promos.”

Those promos — available to both consumers and business customers at AT&T retail stores — include a free Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch for a limited time to any customer buying a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, or a free Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 for buying a Galaxy smartphone on an AT&T Next wireless plan. AT&T is also offering an iPad mini 2 for $99 when a customer buys a new iPhone on the Next plan.

For business customers, the 2-for-1 smartphone deal is new. It allows business customers to buy a new smartphone and then get another smartphone, valued at up to $650, for free.


AMD Goes Polaris

January 19, 2016 by  
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AMD has shown off its upcoming next-generation Polaris GPU architecture at CES 2016 in Las Vegas.

Based on the firm’s fourth generation Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture and built using a 14nm FinFET fabrication process, the upcoming architecture is a big jump from the current 28nm process.

AMD said that it expects shipments of Polaris GPUs to begin in mid-2016, offering improvements such as HDR monitor support and better performance-per-watt.

The much smaller 14nm FinFET process means that Polaris will deliver “a remarkable generational jump in power efficiency”, according to AMD, offering fluid frame rates in graphics, gaming, virtual reality and multimedia applications running on small form-factor thin and light computer designs.

“Our new Polaris architecture showcases significant advances in performance, power efficiency and features,” said AMD president and CEO Lisa Su. “2016 will be a very exciting year for Radeon fans driven by our Polaris architecture, Radeon Software Crimson Edition and a host of other innovations in the pipeline from our Radeon Technologies Group.”

The Polaris architecture features AMD’s fourth-generation GCN architecture, a next-generation display engine with support for HDMI 2.0a and DisplayPort 1.3, and next-generation multimedia features including 4K h.265 encoding and decoding.

GCN enables gamers to experience high-performance video games with Mantle, a tool for alleviating CPU bottlenecks such as API overhead and inefficient multi-threading. Mantle, which is basically AMD’s answer to Microsoft’s Direct X, enables improvements in graphics processing performance. In the past, AMD has claimed that Kaveri teamed with Mantle to enable it to offer built-in Radeon dual graphics to provide performance boosts ranging from 49 percent to 108 percent.

The new GPUs are being sampled to OEMs at the moment and we can expect them to appear in products by mid-2016, AMD said. Once they are in the market, we can expect to see much thinner form factors in devices thanks to the much smaller 14nm chip process.


Apple Buys Parts of Qualcomm

December 31, 2015 by  
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Apple has bought one of Qualcomm’s Taiwan graphics labs and is operating it pretty much under everyone’s radar to “invent” something that Qualcomm tried and failed to make successful.

The lab was used by Qualcomm to develop Interferometric Modulator Display and Apple Insider claims it is now being used to develop thinner, lighter, brighter and more energy-efficient screens.

The lab employs at least 50 engineers and has recruited talent from display maker AU Optronics and Qualcomm. Outside the lab there is no signage or much to indicate that the Fruity Cargo Cult has assumed control.

Government records show that the building is registered to Apple Taiwan, and a staff in the building were observed wearing Apple ID badges.

Bloomberg thinks Apple wants to “reduce reliance on the technology developed by suppliers such as Samsung, LG, Sharp and Japan and instead “develop the production processes in-house and outsource to smaller manufacturers such as Taiwan’s AU Optronics or Innolux.

Apple currently uses LCD screens in its Macs and iOS devices and an OLED display for Apple Watch and the new lab was where Qualcomm tried to develop to develop its own Mirasol displays.

Mirasol use a different technology to backlit LCDs or OLED. It uses an array of microscopic mirror-like elements that can reflect light of a specific colour. It does not need a backlight and only uses energy when being switched on or off, like E-Ink.

The downside to IMOD has historically been that it reproduces flat, unsaturated colours, a problem that may be possible to fix. Qualcomm introduced a Toq smartwatch with an IMOD screen, but the device flopped.

Qualcomm took a $142 million charge on its Mirasol display business and a year ago there were rumours Qualcomm was selling off its Longtan Mirasol panel plant to TSMC.

What appears to have happened is that Jobs Mob might have bought more than just the facility, and instead has some interest in using Mirasol IMOD technology which could offer an advanced technological breakthrough in enabling a new class of low-power displays for use in phones, tablets or wearables.


AMD Goes Full Steam To Open-Source

December 30, 2015 by  
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AMD and now RTG (Radeon Technologies Group) are involved in a major push to open source GPU resources.

According to Ars Technica Under the handle “GPUOpen” AMD is releasing a slew of open-source software and tools to give developers of games, heterogeneous applications, and HPC applications deeper access to the GPU and GPU resources.

In a statement AMD said that as a continuation of the strategy it started with Mantle, it is giving even more control of the GPU to developers.

“ As console developers have benefited from low-level access to the GPU, AMD wants to continue to bring this level of access to the PC space.”

The AMD GPUOpen initiative is meant to give developers the ability to use assets they’ve already made for console development. They will have direct access to GPU hardware, as well as access to a large collection of open source effects, tools, libraries and SDKs, which are being made available on GitHub under an MIT open-source license.

AMD wants GPUOpen will enable console-style development for PC games through this open source software initiative. It also includes an end-to-end open source compute infrastructure for cluster-based computing and a new Linux software and driver strategy

All this ties in with AMD’s Boltzmann Initiative and an HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) software suite that includes an HCC compiler for C++ development. This was supposed to open the field of programmers who can use HSA. A new HCC C++ compiler was set up to enable developers to more easily use discrete GPU hardware in heterogeneous systems.

It also allows developers to convert CUDA code to portable C++. According to AMD, internal testing shows that in many cases 90 percent or more of CUDA code can be automatically converted into C++ with the final 10 percent converted manually in the widely popular C++ language. An early access program for the “Boltzmann Initiative” tools is planned for Q1 2016.

AMD GPUOpen includes a new Linux driver model and runtime targeted at HPC Cluster-Class Computing. The headless Linux driver is supposed to handle high-performance computing needs with low latency compute dispatch and PCI Express data transfers, peer-to-peer GPU support, Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) from InfiniBand that interconnects directly to GPU memory and Large Single Memory Allocation support.


Will GDDR5 Rule In 2016

December 21, 2015 by  
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AMD over-hyped the new  High Bandwidth Memory standard and now the second generation HBM 2.0 is coming in 2016. However it looks like most of GPUs shipped in this year will still rely on the older GDDR5.

Most of the entry level, mainstream and even performance graphics cards from both Nvidia and AMD will rely on the GDDR5. This memory has been with us since 2007 but it has dramatically increased in speed. The memory chip has shrunken from 60nm in 2007 to 20nm in 2015 making higher clocks and lower voltage possible.

Some of the big boys, including Samsung and Micron, have started producing 8 Gb GDDR5 chips that will enable cards with 1GB memory per chip. The GTX 980 TI has 12 chips with 4 Gb support (512MB per chip) while Radeon Fury X comes with four HMB 1.0 chips supporting 1GB per chip at much higher bandwidth. Geforce Titan X has 24 chips with 512MB each, making the total amount of memory to 12GB.

The next generation cards will  get 12GB memory with 12 GDDR5 memory chips or 24GB with 24 chips. Most of the mainstream and performance cards will come with much less memory.

Only a few high end cards such as Greenland high end FinFET solution from AMD and a Geforce version of Pascal will come with the more expensive and much faster HMB 2.0 memory.

GDDR6 is arriving in 2016 at least at Micron and the company promises a much higher bandwidth compared to the GDDR5. So there will be a few choices.


Will Declining Tablet Sales Hurt Android?

December 16, 2015 by  
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The IDC claims that the decline of tablets will harm Android but prop up the windows operating system

While large tablets like the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and its expensive Apple knock-off the Apple iPad Pro, IDC thinks that tablet shipments will continue to decline this quarter.

But IDC also predicts a change in trends, with the market transitioning from standalone tablets over to detachable hybrids.

Users are demanding that tablets actually do something and the boundaries between laptops and tablets with keyboards are starting to blur.  Once just keyboardless netbooks, tablets are becoming netbooks with touchscreens.

IDC predicts that hybrids will be the tablets of the future and that this segment will grow by as much as 75 per cent in 2016 compared to this year.

These devices will be used more and more for productivity purposes more than just consumption. This productivity trend also has an impact on which tablets sizes and platforms will dominate the market.

Tablets are useless for this and these will start to die out. Sizes between 9 and 13 inches are almost perfect, while 13 to 16 inches, though unwieldy, will also more than double its share, IDC said.

IDC predicts Windows will snatch a bigger market share by 2019, almost 20 per cent. These growths will come at the expense of Android, however, who will continue to see a decline in its market share in the next few years.


AMD Appears To Be Pushing It’s Boltzmann Plan

December 10, 2015 by  
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Troubled chipmaker AMD is putting a lot of its limited investment money into the “Boltzmann Initiative” which is uses heterogeneous system architecture ability to harness both CPU and AMD GPU for compute efficiency through software.

VR-World says that stage one results are finished and where shown off this week at SC15. This included a Heterogeneous Compute Compiler (HCC); a headless Linux driver and HSA runtime infrastructure for cluster-class, High Performance Computing (HPC); and the Heterogeneous-compute Interface for Portability (HIP) tool for porting CUDA-based applications to C++ programming.

AMD hopes the tools will drive application performance from machine learning to molecular dynamics, and from oil and gas to visual effects and computer-generated imaging.

Jim Belak, co-lead of the US Department of Energy’s Exascale Co-design Center in Extreme Materials and senior computational materials scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory said that AMD’s Heterogeneous-compute Interface for Portability enables performance portability for the HPC community.

“The ability to take code that was written for one architecture and transfer it to another architecture without a negative impact on performance is extremely powerful. The work AMD is doing to produce a high-performance compiler that sits below high-level programming models enables researchers to concentrate on solving problems and publishing groundbreaking research rather than worrying about hardware-specific optimizations.”

The new AMD Boltzmann Initiative suite includes an HCC compiler for C++ development, greatly expanding the field of programmers who can leverage HSA.

The new HCC C++ compiler is a key tool in enabling developers to easily and efficiently apply the hardware resources in heterogeneous systems. The compiler offers more simplified development via single source execution, with both the CPU and GPU code in the same file.

The compiler automates the placement code that executes on both processing elements for maximum execution efficiency.


GPU Shipments Appear To Be On The Rise

December 1, 2015 by  
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Beancounters at JPR have been adding up the numbers and dividing by their shoe size and worked out that GPU shipments are up for both Nvidia and AMD.

Over the last few months both have been busy with new releases. Nvidia has its GeForce GTX 950 and GTX 980 Ti, while AMD put its first HBM-powered cards in the Radeon R9 Fury X, Fury and the super-small R9 Nano into the shops.

According to JPR, overall GPU shipments are up quarter-over-quarter – with AMD’s overall GPU shipments up 15.8 per cent. But before AMD fanboys get all excited by a surprise return to form from AMD, JPR said that that NVIDIA “had an exceptionally strong quarter”. Nvidia saw an uptick of 21.3 per cent.

The PC market as a whole increased by 7.5 per cent quarter-over-quarter but decreased 9 per cent year-over-year. Nivida’s discrete GPU shipments were up 26.3 per cent according to JPR, while AMD’s discrete GPUs spiked by 33 per cent.

AMD’s mobile GPU shipments for notebooks increased by 17 per cent, while NVIDIA had 14 per cent.